What do I do all day? I sometimes feel I need to justify why I have taken a full year off work. The main reason is that I wanted to use the opportunity to spend as much time with Matilda as I could. Sometimes I do sit in Starbucks (cliche I know), largely because it's an easy place to feed Matilda and I know I'll actually get to sit and finish a cup of coffee before it goes cold. Even I was surprised at how hard it is to get anything done with a baby. Naps are unpredictable so it's difficult to start a task that might take more than half an hour to complete. I invariably have to leave something unfinished until the next naptime or another day. Sometimes I will schedule tasks for the evening after she has gone to bed but then, just like last night, she will fight sleep until 11pm and I am left trying to write up a blog post and watch Game of Thrones at the same time whilst still in my gym kit.
I create even more work for myself through blogging, but it's actually something that isn't too difficult to do with a baby. I can bake with her in the carrier or sat in the highchair, I can usually photograph things when she is asleep or playing next to me on the mat and I draft up posts on the go on my phone and finish them late at night in bed. I blog when and where I can. It's everything else that's hard to do, ironing is sadly not so portable. I have had moments where I've thought "I really don't have time to spend all afternoon baking and photographing food, why bother?" but I love doing it so I keep doing it. Nick and I often say how surprised we are at how much we can tidy up in 30 minutes. Time has so much more meaning now.
When I went on maternity leave one thing I envisaged I'd have lots of, but never actually do, is long leisurely breakfasts. I was so wrong. Meals are quickly made and inhaled with one hand. For Father's Day yesterday I treated Nick to a long lie in and a big pile of these pancakes. He does a lot and he doesn't get to take a year off to spend with Matilda, he has to go to work at 7:40am every morning and he doesn't get to do the fun stuff like story time or baby sensory. He does get to eat his meals with both hands though. We've both made sacrifices ;)
I would say these pancakes require a little more effort than a regular batch but they are definitely worth it, especially if you make the syrup as well. They are much creamier inside and this goes so well with the sweet orange slices cooked on top. When the sugars in the orange caramelise slightly in the pan these pancakes just get even better. I'm completely in love with ricotta pancakes.
Orange, Almond and Ricotta Pancakes
Makes around 10 pancakes
250g ricotta cheese
80g plain flour
50g ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
pinch of salt
180ml whole milk
2 eggs, separated
zest of 1 orange
1 orange, peeled and sliced
Butter, for the pan
for the syrup:
juice of 1 orange
50g caster sugar
flaked almonds, to sprinkle on top
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, sugar and salt.
- Separate the eggs, put the yolks in a large bowl and the whites in your stand mixer (or another bowl to beat with an electric whisk). Beat the whites until stiff.
- Mix the yolks with the ricotta, milk and orange zest. Add in the dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
- Stir in a spoonful of the whipped egg whites to loosen the mixture and then fold in the remaining egg whites with a spatula.
- Heat your frying pan over a medium-low heat and melt a teaspoon of butter. Lay a slice of orange in the pan and spoon over the pancake mix so it covers and surrounds the orange slice. A 1/3 cup size is the perfect amount, if you don't have measuring cups then 4-5 tablespoons will do the trick.
- Cook for around 3 minutes until bubbles start to appear on the surface and then quickly flip over and cook for 2 minutes on the other side.
- You can easily make the syrup whilst the pancakes are cooking. Mix the orange juice and caster sugar in a small pan, bring to a boil and let it reduce and thicken to a maple syrup like consistency. This should take around 5 minutes. Transfer to a jug or glass. There won't be a lot of syrup but there'll be enough for all the pancakes you are making.
- Pile up the pancakes on a plate, drizzle with orange syrup and sprinkle with flaked almonds. Perfect.
- I also tried spooning the pancake mix on first and topping with the orange slice. Both methods work, I just preferred putting the orange slice down first.
- The milk can be replaced with any dairy free milk if you so wish.
- I also cooked a batch using coconut oil instead of butter and the outcome was the same.
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